Jonathan Clements, in the Wall Street Journal today, had some useful reminders for moms and dads trying to teach their kids good money skills. We actually practice some of these on our eight-year old. Our friend, Harvey Beck at ActiveAllowance.com writes a lot in his blog about his money experiments on his two boys and finds that a lot of these strategies really work. All dads should try these things just to see if it helps to quell the “I want” and “I need” reaction to all the buying stimuli kids are exposed to.
Finally, I’d recommend talking about money in a way that is consistent more with the values you want to instill than in the values you may have picked up. Most of us middle class moms and dads lust over bright shiny objects, but then are surprised when our kids do the same thing. We wonder where they get it and blame it on TV or on their other less-enlightened peers. The responsibility, though, really lands on us. We need to be aware of how many boxes from Amazon come flowing into the house, how much we talk about other people’s money, or how much things cost, and whether we sub-consciously communicate that spending and buying is the best way to alleviate boredom and find happiness. The answer is not usually to “just say ‘no,’ but to help our kids find balance and learn to be good spending adults.